Traversing the enchanted mountain

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For one, I was not confident my right knee will be able to hold up. Number two, I am not a fan of spirits and bloodsuckers, both of which fairly occupy the mountain. With a big bag of salt and my ever go-go mood when it comes to trips, my eight friends and I set forth to conquer Maria Makiling on the first day of August.

The summit at Peak 2 is 1,090 meters above mean sea level. Since we did the main UPLB trail the previous year, this time we took the more scenic and challenging Sto. Tomas trail. The trail begins at San Bartolome in Sto. Tomas, Batangas and ends at the friendlier UP College of Forestry area in Los Baños, Laguna.

My first major climb for the year, I suited up and prepared to say hello to not just the limatiks, but also to the expected half day climb and to lots of bending, going over and roping through trails.

The MakTrav starts on wide rural or farm roads that eventually become a maze of cogon grasslands. The exciting portion commences at the roped segments of Melkas Ridge and culminates at the deep forest of the Wild Boar Trail. From the summit, descending becomes easy albeit hard on the knees as the toll of the Wild Boar Trail rubs on you.

05:30 ETD Manila for Sto. Tomas market via BSC (or any bus bound for Tanauan or Lucena, Php91.00)
06:30 breakfast at Sto. Tomas
07:00 ride tricyle going to Sitio Palanggana in San Bartolome (Php60.00 for three pax)
07:30 ETA registration center (Php15.00)
07:45 start traverse
12:00 Melkas Ridge
12:30 lunch along the trail
15:00 Peak 2
18:00 Agila base
18:45 break at sari-sari store
19:00 ride habal-habal to park entrance for Php50.00 per person (or walk for another hour)
19:30 Makiling Rainforest Park entrance or UPLB College of Forestry for wash-up
21:15 ETD UPLB for Olivarez Mall
21:30 ETD Olivarez Mall for Calamba Crossing
22:00 dinner at Calamba
22:30 ETD Calamba for Manila (Php65.00)
24:00 ETA Shangri-la Mall

Just a word of caution as any one who has been to Makiling will advise. Limatiks abound and apparently find ways to launch and attach themselves to your face, arms and legs. I was unfortunate enough to have had two land on my face, two on my chest and more than five on my legs and shoes. Fortunately, none of them bit and sucked the life off me. Claims of confusing trails and missing mountaineers have been heard. Good thing markers in the form of ribbons have been put up to guide climbers.

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